Dreams have always been a huge mystery to mankind. We’ve always been mystified by our dreams and what they could possibly mean, if they have any meaning at all.
Thanks to some advances in neuroscience, we’re slowly making our way to potentially un-fogging the mysteries of out nocturnal cognition. There’s still a long way to go, but now scientists have made a breakthrough and can induce lucid dreams and even communicate with them as they dream.
So what is lucid dreaming? It is the awareness of being in a dream, and often those who find themselves in this state of consciousness find that they can even sometimes control their dreams to a certain extent.
It’s estimated that half of human beings will experience lucid dreaming. Researchers have been working on methods on inducing lucid dreaming in order to better understand the phenomenon.
A recent study showed techniques like “reality testing” which involves the dreamer training themselves to constantly check whether they are aware or not, which can help increase the frequency of lucid dreaming.
By combining reality testing and mnemonic induction of lucid dreams (MILD), which means having dreamers wake up every five hours of sleep and trying to realize when they are dreaming before going back to sleep.
In an interview with Technology Networks, Professor Ken Paller of Northwestern University explains that they helped induce lucid dreams using reality testing and asking questions like “are you dreaming right now” in order to trigger a sense of awareness that leads to lucid dreaming.
He said that researchers were even able to communicate with the lucid dreamers, and some were even able to answer basic math equations, signaling answers with their eyes.
While this is a huge step forward, there is still work that must be done in order to know how different lucid dreams are from regular dreams, especially when it comes to brain activity. Only one brain imaging study has been done that involved a single lucid dreamer.
While the study does need to be backed up with more data, one interesting fact from the study says: “lucid dreaming was associated with a reactivation of areas which are normally deactivated during REM sleep.” These include areas like the prefrontal cortex that is used for critical thinking.
Study authors say: “This pattern of activity can explain the recovery of reflective cognitive capabilities that are the hallmark of lucid dreaming.”